Spreading Purikura Culture
Yuka Kubo, an independent researcher who studies the purikura phenomenon, has traced how the booths evolved over time.
Early models featured little more than cutesy borders around photos, with the first limited retouching tools debuting around 1998.
Facial recognition technology incorporated in 2003 allowed specific features to be altered, particularly the eyes.
“That was the start of the fashion for enormous eyes,” said Kubo, referring to a popular feature giving customers the doe-eyed gaze of anime characters.
“It started a competition between manufacturers, driven by demand from girls, over who could offer the biggest eyes,” she said.
In recent years retouching options have become more sophisticated, offering tints and shades to give the appearance of perfect skin or a slimmer face.
And while smartphones and apps offer retouching features, Hikita said there was still room for purikura.